California’s Water Shortage Could Idle Hundreds of Thousands of Crop Acres

DanCattle, Citrus, Corn, Cotton, Dairy & Livestock, Environment, Field & Row Crops, Forage Crops, General, Grain, Hogs & Pork, Poultry, Specialty Crops, Sugar, Tree, nut & vine crops, Vegetables, Water

Farmers in California may end up idling nearly half-a-million acres of cropland this year. That would not only cause billions of dollars in economic damage – it would very likely lead to higher consumer prices. Experts say it’s too soon to quantify the effect – but it’s worth noting the state produces half the nation’s fruits and vegetables and some tree and vine produce is only grown there. If things don’t turn around – California water managers have said the drought will force an unprecedented cutoff in state-supplied water sold to 29 irrigation districts, water agencies and municipalities. It’s expected irrigation deliveries to another group of agricultural districts served by the state will be reduced by half. An even bigger group of farmers – who get water from the federally operated Central Valley Project – are also bracing for sharp cutbacks. California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger says the state’s farmers are in a dire situation they’ve never been in before. California Farm Water Coalition Executive Director Mike Wade says some farmers may still grow crops on some of their land – but some may face bankruptcy because of the water situation. Wade says farm districts representing about half of irrigated agriculture in the Central Valley region have reported they expect to fallow 385-thousand acres this year as a result of the water shortage. Extrapolating to the remainder of the Central Valley – Wade’s organization believes the full amount of irrigated land removed from production will top 500-thousand acres of the region’s approximate six-million total. At Farm Bureau – Wenger says they are projecting between 400-thousand and 500-thousand acres of irrigation land will be fallowed.